A man stands in the entryway to a cave, which is currently being used as a manger amidst the chaos and hustle of this census. Inside sits his wife, exhausted from both their long journey and the strains of childbirth. He marvels that she has the energy to wrap the little baby in swaddling clothes and watch over him. He wishes he could somehow have made this moment better, easier, or even special. From a distance, shepherds approach excitedly with stories of angels praising God for the birth of this child. At first, Joseph wants to defend his wife and the baby, but she tells him it is alright. Reluctantly, Joseph allows their entry. All the while, he keeps thinking to himself, “I am but a lowly carpenter. How can this be? What does God expect of me?” The night grows deeper, but inexplicably the sky is aglow…
Joseph may not have believed it at the time, but he was the perfect parent for the little baby Jesus. It wasn’t that he was strong or wise or wealthy – indeed he was none of these. Joseph, instead, was ordinary. He was living proof that God does the extraordinary – through the ordinary – all the time. Joseph would teach his boy an honorable trade. Joseph would protect his family with a fierce love and loyalty. Joseph would live his faith publicly for all to see. In the years to come, this man would be the simple human Dad to the anointed one born of heaven and earth. Joseph would actually have the amazing calling to be a human role model to the Word of God Incarnate! As such, he would play a key role in connecting the experience of the divine with the life of the sinner. But on this night, he was just an ordinary man standing alone and observing the miraculous with an overwhelmed soul.
On Christmas Eve, I will find myself standing in awe of the manger as well. I have the advantage of hindsight and knowledge, whereas Joseph’s story with Jesus had yet to be written. Then again, I sometimes forget how much of my story still remains a blank page. And thus, I find myself similarly standing in an entryway, in awe of the night at hand and in anticipation of the road that lies ahead. All I can pray is that, in the same way as Joseph, I may be so ordinary as to be an extraordinary blessing to the generations of our family yet to come. That remains to be seen. For now, I simply watch a manger, stare at the night sky, and sing O Come, O Come Immanuel!!!
-Rev Jeffrey G Mikyska (pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Elgin, IL)

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